In further signs of the burgeoning relationship between Israel and Brazil, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Monday that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Brazil to attend the inauguration of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
The prime minister’s trip is slated to last for five days and will be the first official visit by an Israeli premier to the South American giant. Last year, Netanyahu visited Brazil’s neighbor Argentina, as well as Colombia and Mexico. He is also expected to meet with local Jewish Brazilian leaders too.
Before the year is up, Netanyahu will fly to one of Brazil’s most populous cities, Rio de Janeiro on December 27, where he will conduct his first face-to-face meeting with Bolsonaro. The prime minister is also scheduled to meet with Jewish community leaders on this day.
Netanyahu will subsequently travel to Brazilian capital, Brasilia, on Monday, December 31, where he will attend a number of events surround the presidential inauguration, set for the next day – January 1, 2019.
Israel’s prime minister spoke warmly of his upcoming trip and his excitement at the change in attitude toward Israel Brasilia. “Brazil is a great country,” he told foreign journalists at last week’s GPO New Year’s toast. “It has great enormous economic potential and I think that this will be a tremendous benefit for both our countries. The President[-elect] said something I very much like. He said he’s going to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It’s only been for 3,000 years.
As early as November, Bolsonaro – a Catholic, though married to an evangelical Protestant – pledged that Brazil would reverse its decades-long hostility toward Israel and move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In addition, the president-elect questioned the legitimacy of Brasilia hosting a Palestinian Embassy. “Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here,” Bolsonaro said at the time. “You do not negotiate with terrorists.”